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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 12, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Iraq Nominates Shia Leader to Replace Nouri al-Maliki

Iraq's political crisis heightened on Monday after the country's new president nominated Haidar al-Abadi, a member of the former premier's Shia-dominated party, to replace Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister (FT). Al-Maliki, whom Washington helped install after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, refused to concede power (Reuters) after deploying militias and special forces in the streets of Baghdad. The White House endorsed the nomination (AP), with Secretary of State John Kerry urging the prime minister-designate on Tuesday to form an inclusive government and offering U.S. aid (NYT) to fight the ISIS insurgency.


"Now as Mr. Maliki reaches a moment of truth, either stepping down or trying to preserve power, Mr. Obama and the American government are trying to maneuver the Iraqi leader one last time in hopes of replacing him with a more reliable figure who can pull that fractious country together and work more collaboratively with Washington," writes Peter Baker for the New York Times.

"What will the president do if we no longer have Maliki to kick around? That will be the moment of truth. Will we stick to a minimalist containment strategy designed to prevent ISIS from taking Erbil and murdering the Yazidis? Or will we implement a much more ambitious strategy to enable the defeat of ISIS? I believe the U.S. must opt for the latter option," writes CFR's Max Boot for Commentary.

"Washington cannot ignore Isis, a growing global threat that could pose greater risks to America than al-Qaida did in its heyday. But if Obama really wants to pass the fight against Isis on to local forces, he will have to bolster— not just tacitly support— the Kurdish peshmerga," writes Cale Salih for the Guardian.



U.S. to Increase Navy Presence in Australia

The United States plans to bolster its air and navy presence in northern Australia (Reuters) and integrate Australian warships into its ballistic-missile defense systems in Northeast Asia (SMH), according to reports. The news comes as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry visit Sydney for defense talks.

INDONESIA: Indonesia's president-elect Joko Widodo, who won a resounding electoral victory last month, said his country was ready to serve as an intermediary and quell rising tensions over the South China Sea disputes (AFP).

CFR's Karen Brooks reflects on what Indonesia's recent election means for its democracy in this expert brief.



Modi Accuses Pakistan of Proxy War in Kashmir

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan of waging a proxy war (AFP) in Kashmir on a trip to the remote Himalayan town of Kargil, where more than 1,000 troops died in a battle there fifteen years ago. Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit the town since the fighting.

This CFR Crisis Guide lends background to the Kashmir conflict.

BANGLADESH: After an eleven-day hunger strike, garment workers in Bangladeshi factories that supplied clothes for Walmart and other retailers finally received their wages on Sunday (Guardian).



Egypt Faces Human Rights Report

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi left for Russia on Tuesday to meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and discuss bilateral and economic cooperation (al-Arabiya). Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch called for an international commission of inquiry into mass killings in Egypt last summer, saying they likely amount to crimes against humanity (AP).



Liberia to Receive Experimental Ebola Drug

The Liberian government said that the United States has approved a request to ship an experimental Ebola drug (al-Jazeera), ZMapp, to the country after a direct appeal to U.S. president Barack Obama on Friday. The drug has already been used to treat two U.S. aid workers and a Spanish priest infected with the virus.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday criticized warring sides in South Sudan for missing a recent deadline that would have set up a transitional government (VOA).



Russia Sends Aid Convoy to Ukraine

Russia has deployed 280 trucks with relief goods to Ukraine in a move that will likely raise fears that Moscow will use the humanitarian cause as a pretext for invading the east (FT). Western governments previously warned that any unilateral mission by Russia would be seen as an invasion.

Mounting fears of Russian aggression in Eastern Europe are lending new significance to NATO, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

KOSOVO: Kosovo police arrested at least forty people (WSJ) suspected of being domestic militants who fought in Syria and Iraq. The move is the biggest initiative yet against suspected militants in Kosovo.



EU to Hold LatAm Talks Over Food Exports

The EU will hold talks with countries like Brazil and Chile to dissuade them from exporting foods to Russia (FT), which banned a lengthy list of agricultural products from Western countries last week in retaliation of sanctions. Since the ban, Moscow has been courting Latin American countries for alternative supplies.

URUGUAY: Uruguay will ask fellow members at the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) summit in Montevideo later this month to reach a consensus position on the Gaza conflict (MercoPress).



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